Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Honor Desmond-Tetlow
“Remember to take your SCARF into negotiations” may seem like odd advice. It isn’t. SCARF, an acronym for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness, should not be overlooked and should be taken into account when entering into negotiations. Briefly:
  • “Status” refers to the need to be respected and treated as an equal;
  • “Certainty” to the need for some predictability and security;
  • “Autonomy” the sense of having choices and some control;
  • “Relatedness” the need for collegiality and a sense of belonging/trust; and
  • “Fairness” is a justice/rule driven priority.

Bermuda’s Judiciary has now taken to publishing an annual report (2012 Annual Report (PDF)). One of the more revealing statistics to emerge for 2012 was that over 3,500 cases were commenced in the Magistrate’s Court by parties who were suing for money they claimed they are owed. Nearly 4,000 cases in one year! A huge number when you consider that this lower court only sets aside two days a week (Wednesday and Friday) to hear these disputes in the first or interlocutory instance. This averages out to 32 cases a day. It therefore has all the appearances of an active and busy court in a forum that is intended to be relatively quick and user-friendly. Parties are welcome to sue and defend claims in Magistrate’s Court without having to hire a lawyer. Typically, the lower court deals with landlord and tenant disputes, breaches of contract and negligence claims. There is, however, a ceiling on claims — they can be no more than $25,000. Nevertheless, it may still be helpful to seek the advice of an attorney before you launch a claim or prepare to defend one. Here’s a guide of what to expect in taking your claim to Magistrate’s Court: